Nairobi, 18 Oct 10: — Mr. Joan Clos, the new Executive Director of UN-HABITAT on Monday began his first day of a four-year tenure. Mr. Clos was recently elected by the United Nations General Assembly as the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT at the level of Under Secretary-General of the UN.

On arrival at UN-HABITAT headquarters, Joan Clos said he is delighted to be in Nairobi and thanked the Government of Kenya for hosting the organization since its inception in 1978, saying he looked forward to working with Kenya and the rest of the international community to ensure the future success of the organization.

"With 50% of the world’s population already living in urban areas and with a projected increase to 70% by 2050, urbanization is one of the major challenges of the twenty-first century. With increasing migration in developing countries tackling the urbanization of poverty is a key priority,” he said.

“At a time when climate change is in danger of wreaking havoc all over the world, the environmental management of cities is also key to the future of our planet. I look forward to working with all UN-HABITAT partners, the international community, governments, local authorities, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and communities to ensure we live in socially and environmentally sustainable cities.”

Mr. Clos said he hoped to meet all the staff in due course and was pleased to be working with them to improve the living conditions of citizens everywhere.  

The former Mayor of Barcelona, Joan Clos, joins UN-HABITAT after a long career in the Spanish Government both at the local and national level.  Between 2006 and 2008, he was appointed Minister of Industry, Tourism and Trade in President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s cabinet. Prior to this, between 1997 and 2006, Joan Clos served two terms as Mayor of Barcelona. Most recently he was Spain´s Ambassador to the Republics of Turkey and Azerbaijan.

Joan Clos succeeds Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka who headed UN-HABITAT since it was formed in 2001 to replace the UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS). The agency is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.